Becoming a Practicing Muslim: The Five Pillars of Islam [II]
30 Jan 2018
Second: Salah (Prayer)
Salah (prayer) is one of the five pillars of Islam. It is an important act of worship that is mandatory for every Muslim. During Salah, Muslims send their supplications and prayers to God, asking for forgiveness and guidance along the "Straight Path".
Performing Salah means that worshippers have the opportunity to thank God for His blessings and submit to His will. It is a way for Muslims to feel closer to their creator.
In order to pray in Islam, a worshipper must be a Muslim, of sound mind, and has reached the age of puberty. Furthermore, Salah is performed five times a day at specific intervals, where the worshipper stands facing the qibla (the direction of the Kaaba). It is important that during prayer, a person’s clothes are clean and that they cover his/her awrah [parts of the body that should be covered in front of other people].
One must also perform wudu before Salah, which is a ritual ablution where specific parts of the body are cleaned with water to ensure that your Salah is valid.
“O you who have believed, when you rise to [perform] prayer, wash your faces and your forearms to the elbows and wipe over your heads and wash your feet to the ankles. And if you are in a state of janabah, then purify yourselves. But if you are ill or on a journey or one of you comes from the place of relieving himself or you have contacted women and do not find water, then seek clean earth and wipe over your faces and hands with it. Allah does not intend to make difficulty for you, but He intends to purify you and complete His favor upon you that you may be grateful.” [Al-Ma'idah, 5]
A call to prayer (Adhan) is recited by a muezzin for the five daily prayers, from a mosque, and people in their homes start praying as soon as they hear it. Another call to prayer (Iqama) is recited shortly after for the worshippers gathered inside the mosque itself to indicate that the prayer is about to start in congregation in the mosque.
Aside from the five daily obligatory prayers, Muslims also pray on different occasions and for various reasons, such as the Eid prayer, which is performed on the morning of Eid al-Fitr and Eid al-Adha, in addition to Salat al-Istikhaarah, which is performed when a Muslim needs to ask God for guidance on a particular matter. To understand more about the specifics of prayer you can sign up for our Islamic Practices course on the topic.
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